Feuza Reis is a wedding photographer, blogger and founder of SEO for Photographer’s Bootcamp “Get Found With Fuse”. This is Feuza's second guest blog post. Read her first one as well. Follow Feuza on Twitter.
In the last few weeks, some photographers in the community have imparted SEO advice that has made me want to cringe and hide. Not only were there some major mistakes taught, some things mentioned were irresponsible and can get photographers in trouble with Google.
Here are 5 SEO myths photographers should consider reviewing:
1) Wanting To Only Rank (meaning to be on the first page of Google) For A City and/or Kind Of Photography Service You Offer
For example: NY Wedding Photographer, Los Angeles Newborn photographer, Chicago kids Photographer and so forth.
You should be including the town you live in and the towns you serve in your SEO efforts but it should not be your main SEO or only SEO goal.
Number one is, I call this the gladiator arena, everyone is bidding on adwords for this term and paying big bucks for it, this in turn will make it harder to rank. This also indicates a high competition in the organic results realm because business owners don’t understand how people actually search or how Google works.
Google is smart enough to know where the person searching is actually located and it knows how to filter it’s results accordingly. Do brides who get married in NY, Chicago or LA really live in that town? Or, do they live in surrounding towns but want to get married in the big city? I don’t have an exact answer for this but I know you can use Google’s Keyword Tool to discover the search traffic results to find out. What I do know is that Google is wise and knows what it is doing so when I hear photographers say they don’t or should not list surrounding towns, it's comical and sad.
You are missing out on organic traffic because you are underestimating Google’s algorithms. Why fight where everyone is fighting instead of going after alternative keywords, venues, wedding types, surrounding cities, and actually words and phrases clients really use like pictures of engagement photos, kids, children and not words like lifestyle, portrait, and industry related words?
Competitive keywords don’t always mean more traffic so be very careful.
2) Use The Same 2-3 Keyword Phrase On Every Single Blog Post And On All Pages Of Your Website
Although SEO is all about text and yes you should have as much text as possible and even be repetitive, variety matters.
For an engagement photo session gallery page, your page titles and description should be related to engagement photography and variations of that and not have words like Family or San Diego Wedding Photographer.
Yes Google knows that those when two things are relatable like wedding and engagement but making the page as concise and specific as possible will help the search engines navigate better and know where to go within your website. This also matters when choosing what to name your links within your pages in your category dropdowns and sub categories. Don’t use cute names for sessions but use more day to day words clients will know.
The other problem with using the same keyword all over is that it will be considered duplicate content and your pages will compete with each other and you sure don’t want that because the Google bots will leave. Remember its not your over all domain url that gets ranked per say but it is your pages and one page can be much stronger than the other and get better results. So if a search engine comes into your website and all the pages are “Seattle Wedding Photographer” it will get stuck and not know how to navigate and this will cause higher bounce rates so change your page titles, change your descriptions. Being too repetitive is also called keyword stuffing which Google has been frowning upon over and over. It can get you short term results but the long term can get you banned from Google and most of us can’t risk grey hat practices because lets face it we don’t have the bucks to pay some technician to go fix the problem if we magically disappear from google one day.
How to know if you are keyword stuffing? Optimize for humans! Make it sound natural and if it looks odd then take it out. We can optimize for the search engines all day long but at the end of the day it is humans that book us so keep your clients in mind.
3) Clients Don’t Type More Than Two or Three Keyword Phrases In Their Search
(insert jaw drop)
Longer phrase words are called “long tail” and yes there may be less traffic but if you nail a long tail keyword, Google will love you and give you priority with ranking!
As Photographer's SEO put it:
“A great thing about knowing how to choose long tail keywords is that even though the search volume for that particular keyword phrase may be lower you’ll find that there is less competition for it there for you’ll have a much better chance of breaking higher for them very quickly.”
Statics state that 20% of what has been searched in Google in the last 90 days has NEVER which indicates we humans have a lot to say and alot has not been said yet. SEO MOZ’s long term graph shows:
“It's wonderful to deal with keywords that have 5,000 searches a day, or even 500 searches a day, but in reality, these “popular” search terms actually make up less than 30% of the searches performed on the web. The remaining 70% lie in what's called the “long tail” of search. The long tail contains hundreds of millions of unique searches that might be conducted a few times in any given day, but, when taken together, they comprise the majority of the world's demand for information through search engines.”
Another point I want to state in regards to using long tail phrases is that for the most types of photography services offered, it is more women than men doing the actual search: think of brides, moms, secretaries, teens etc. Of course men search too. In fact, I have a lot of grooms calling me but I believe men do more the paying and showing up and women do more the searching online. So if it's women mostly searching for my service (of course this is my opinion and there are many exceptions) and women speak on average 10,000 words a day vs men who generally speak 3,000 words a day, do you really think women while searching will want to save on vocabulary? Is is true that we live in a fast paced society and people can save some words because they are in a rush but the words saved based on what you see on Google keyword tool result are prepositions. When searching for something new and an unfamiliar topic like hiring a photographer for an event, wedding, portrait session, we will use more words to describe what we are looking for because for most of our clients this is something new to them completely.
I had to recently search about pulling teeth since my eight year son’s teeth are growing in before falling out and they were very loose too. Do you think I searched 2 word phrases like tooth pulling or a full sentence? I actually searched something like: “how do you when to pull a child’s tooth? How to safely pull a tooth? Is it safe to pull your child’s teeth and so forth?”
Brides, moms and people for the most part when searching online for a topic they are not used to will elaborate using their words. Things like “where to find? what is? who is the best?,” and so forth.
So, don’t ignore longer keyword phrases especially when blogging.
4) Creating Dummy Pages
Cringe and cringe. How could I call creating content pages for my clients, the ones who book me, pay for my services dummy pages? Or worse, create fake urls to link back to my website? This can be done if you are an expert but you have to know what you are doing so just be aware of possible consequences in doing so.
So you ask: “Feuza, you have never purchased an url with keywords?” Of course I have and will in a heartbeat if a keyword is available. But I am a huge fan of creating content pages on your actual website and even blog because it can be huge for SEO. Perhaps do a redirect or forward the URL once but not a dozen times and create fake websites. And please don’t purchase any backlinks on fiverr!
At the end of the day, I don’t care if you are getting business from referrals only, from Facebook only or from online only the number one tip to book new clients is BE A RESOURCE. One of the things I teach for blogging is think of every customer service question you have ever had and do a blog post to answer it for present clients and future clients.
When you help someone find a place to buy something, to photograph at a venue, they will remember you and be your fan. That is the power of social media sometimes. You will get your return-on-investment, or ROI, later and it can be hard to tell the true source of that booking. But by providing valuable information to your end user, you will see results.
Be genuine about your content pages and optimize for humans especially since Google has been coming down on these kinds of methods more and more. You should try and have variety in content you do provide. You can also break down your frequently asked questions and have a page for each question. However, remember not to write the exact same thing on blog content page that you do on your website content page because it can be viewed as duplicate content.
5) “I Can’t Be In Google Places Because I Work From Home”
Some of you don’t want strangers to have your home address. I get that. But, as service providers many of us do work from home and some of our work, like boudoir photography, is more of a private service.
While you do indeed need to provide your real address, you can mask the address in your Google Places listing by providing many cities you do serve. Yelp does something similar.
As per Google’s guidelines:
“Address (required): The address should look exactly the way you'd write it on a standard mailing envelope. If you are a service-area business, you'll be able to hide your address in a few steps. We recommend listing suite numbers in Address Line 2.”
To view the rest of the guidelines visit HERE!
So don’t hesitate in getting your Google listings as local SEO gets more and more powerful. Another good tip is to Google yourself under Google Maps to see what comes up and to see if you are listed or Google has wrong information about your business.
As you can see my listing does not have my actual address but just the town I live in:
In summary it is up to each business to do due diligence and be compliant. Some may disagree with my views on some things but there are some facts that can not be ignored. I suggest white hat practices especially if you don’t know what you are doing and don’t have an SEO support team to get found!